Friday, April 8, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Arizona Rising Edition

Mind you don't cut yourself, Mordecai!

~ Glen

I wasn’t exactly staked to a starter home in suburban Tempe by Ed’s dad, but I did recently spend a little time in Arizona and I didn’t spend my time drilling holes in sheet metal.  The annual national conference of the American Planning Association (APA) took place in Phoenix this past week.  The hotel I stayed in is located on the blurred suburban edge of Phoenix on the Tempe side.  So technically I was in McDunnough territory.  Didn’t run into H.I. or Ed or little Nathan, Jr. though.

While I like conference trips and do my best to make the most of them this one was different.  I took off for a run a couple of days before my flight to Phoenix (by way of Atlanta) and rolled my ankle pretty bad.  If I had to guess I would say it was the third worst ankle roll of my life.  I was able to hobble around without crutches, but I wasn’t looking forward to navigating the air transportation system on a bum stump.

In fact, I wasn’t looking to this particular conference at all.  A few dozen seconds after my registration was complete, my flight booked, and a hotel room reserved I was overtaken by a sense of dread.  I truly didn’t want to go to Phoenix.  I just went to Knoxville for the Sustainable Trails Conference and I’ve got the state chapter of the APA spring conference coming up next month.  On top of that I had been so busy at work and seeming behind in everything…stretched thin you might say…I just wanted a normal routine for a while. 

You might ask why I even signed up for the conference if I didn’t want to go.  Wouldn’t it be a waste of resources?  Well, to maintain my AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners) I need a certain number of continuing credits.  The most time efficient way of doing so is to attend the national conference.  The conference was in Phoenix this year.  So I went to Phoenix.

I racked up a bunch of credits.  I spent all day Sunday, all day Monday, and most of the day Tuesday in sessions.  Long sessions.  Some interesting and some boring.  I drank coffee.  I gouged at my eyes.  My ankle slowly healed.  By Tuesday I kind of felt like walking around and exploring, so that’s what I spent most of the afternoon doing before returning to my hotel for the last time.

Phoenix has a light rail.  I used it to travel between hotel and downtown every day.  It’s $4 for an all day pass.  That’s a great deal and I took full advantage of it.  Even for short trips around downtown it was nice to have the pass and just be able to jump on the train and travel a stop or two. 

It’s an okay town—no Denver or San Diego—but well worth a visit if you can scrum up a reason to go.  I thought being a Coen Brothers fan would be enough.  Maybe it would have been if I hadn’t been a gimp. 

There were lots of cyclists.  There were a lot more bikes on the light rail than I ever saw in Denver or even in San Diego.  Seems like maybe in San Diego the transit system was robust enough that people didn’t need bikes for the last mile trips and in Denver the bike network was more complete and efficient than the transit system.  Does that mean Phoenix has a good balance of both?  I don’t have enough data to say for sure, but I could see getting around by bike fairly easy there. 

Why all this talk about bikes suddenly?  And not just mountain bikes?

With Spring getting ready to spring (technically…I know) I’ve been itching to ride more.  I’m serious.  I’ve been fantasizing about road rides to pick up Cobhill, High Rock, and even the Gorge Loop again.  It’s been too long.  My legs twitch.  I’m not even confident that I can climb Furnace right now.  I ponder will I be able to grind up to Hart’s Orchard with my 1x10 mtb gearing.  How can I know unless I try?

I really just haven’t been riding enough at all.  At. All.  Its time I started riding the X to town.  Its time I started riding at Veep on my lunches.  Its time I snuck out for dawn patrol circuits around the Red River Valley on the weekends.  I have forgotten that I’m a cyclist these past few months.

It feels like long distance running was a failed experiment for me.  I’m not saying I won’t try it again in the future, but I was never able to change my habits or maintain the patience I needed to progress into longer distances and faster speeds.  In short, I gotta drop the weight.  That’s all there is to it.

In the meantime I want to get back to riding.  I miss riding.  I have missed riding all along.  And that’s why I could never fully give up the mountain bike.  I only feel like the world is functioning well when I’m on the bike.  That sounds melodramatic, but it’s the stark truth. 

I was enthralled by the Jimmy John’s bike delivery guys in downtown Phoenix.  At first I thought it was a handful of random bike messengers, but after wandering around at lunch time I finally realized it was three guys hubbing out of the chain sandwich shop.  Kinda made me wish my teens and early twenties had gone differently.

A lot of thoughts have been bouncing around in the old Duder’s head.  Something else I’ve been missing is regular blogging.  I’ve just been too busy with little inspiration.  Again, a need to get back on the bike.

My cycling goal for 2016 is to claim the Strava KOM for Cobhill.  It’s a tall order for these old knees.  I need to shave almost five minutes off my ascent of the 0.7 mile segment.  Basically I want to claim the KOM by the end of the year.  I’m sure it won’t stand long.  I had it for only a short time.  But by chasing this goal I’ll have to address weight (through diet and exercise), strength (specific conditioning), and my head game.  The ride from home to pick up this segment is 34 miles.  That’s a good distance for a moderate distance ride.  And its not giveaway route.     

I’ll close with a couple of images.   

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